history

The history essay below has been submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

The Birth Of The State History Essay

The state represents one of the fundamental topics of the political science. Its analysis in terms of functions, nature, origins and relationship wich it must have with the social world, became the subject of reflection for political thinkers since the first manifestations of this type of analysis. In contemporary times, the definitions given to the state kept the classic elements of the concept.

Referring to the construction of Europe and to the European idea, we are compelled to wear a long history behind, compared to wich, the reality of today may seem the materialization of an utopic abstraction or the bureaucratic twisted of a continent in decline. However we would be tempted to perceieve this issue, for Europe the concepts of "state" and "nation" (especially the latter) are the fundamental pillars of the past dominated by battles, of the interogative present and of the future,wich is "under construction". Pendulating between the Federation and the superstate idea, the main actors on the inter-European relations' stage are still the nations and the states, whether separate or united in the so-called "nation-state".

The book of German historian Hagen Schulze deals precisely with these concepts, specific to the European consciousness: constantly redefined over generations, passing under different shapes and having different connotations through the European History, for almost one hundred years.

The period between 12,000 and 7,000 years ago marks the end of the hunting and gathering era and the emergence of the era of horticultural and pastoral societies. Although this shift is referred to as the first social revolution, it was actually gradual and unfolded over thousands of years. However, the changes were so deep in the major areas of social life that this shift truly was revolutionary.

Politically, the agrarian era marks the beginning of a structured organization managing collective affairs: the state. When territories and population become so large and diverse as a result of conquests, the need emerges for some degree of political integration under a single political authority. The emergence of a governing class marks the relative decline of kinship ties. Indeed, most agrarian societies are ruled by hereditary kings or emperors whose titles are passed to their heirs.

The major political characteristic of agrarian societies is what Lenski and Nolan (2004) call the proprietary theory of the state: rulers of agrarian societies do not manage their empire for the common good or in the name of the public interest, but as a piece of property they own and can do with as they please.

The book, How Societies Change, by Daniel Chirot (Thousand Oaks CA: Pine Forge Press, 2000, 144 pages), is a well written account of the study of social change, how societies adapt, or fail to adapt, to changing conditions, and what sorts of major changes have occurred over the last five thousand years.  It is organized around three historical periods; early human societies, agrarian societies, the rise of the west, the modern era; and concludes with an approach to a theory of social change.

As Daniel Chirot has pointed out in his work “How Societies Change”, the advent of agriculture in the period of around 11.000 BC2 has had a significant impact on the way societies were organised, transcending from a simple forage based society where nomadic practices were a distinctive character to a more sedentary agricultural society where the communities were formed around areas where there were enough opportunities to ensure at least a subsistence living. An agrarian society is a type of a community that depends on agriculture as the primary means for it's support and continued existence, and it was the advent of agrarian societies that helped create the first groundwork for a more established community, and as such political, called a state. 

Statecraft was elusive in the first phases; only later on in the lands of Sumeria the first attempts at an organised state with a centralised power were made and according to Daniel Chirot “it is not surprising that the earliest states...consisted of cities made up of granaries, temples and fortifications built around them for protection.”3 Chirot's quote attributes the spread of statecraft to three vital components – food, religion and protection.  This was prevalent in the early stages of Ancient states built around granaries and temples but also in the later stages such as the Greek city states that were focused around arable land, a grand temple or a pantheon dedicated to the gods and with strong fortifications erected around the city. This would turn out to be a common component of medieval societies; cities were built around fertile arable land with a large church or cathedral in it's midst, whilst extensive walls or castles were constructed to protect those living within them. This ensured a gradual, albeit slow, development of states as a whole as populations expanded, protected by foreign devastators, enabling those who lived within the confines of the walls and within the territory of a strong kingdom to channel their energies on anything other than providing food by endlessly toiling the land whilst bearing the constant fear of death. 

Referring to the construction of Europe and to the European idea, we are compelled to wear a long history behind, compared to wich, the reality of today may seem the materialization of an utopic abstraction or the bureaucratic twisted of a continent in decline. However we would be tempted to perceieve this issue, for Europe the concepts of "state" and "nation" (especially the latter) are the fundamental pillars of the past dominated by battles, of the interogative present and of the future,wich is "under construction". Pendulating between the Federation and the superstate idea, the main actors on the inter-European relations' stage are still the nations and the states, whether separate or united in the so-called "nation-state".

The book of German historian Hagen Schulze deals precisely with these concepts, specific to the European consciousness: constantly redefined over generations, passing under different shapes and having different connotations through the European History, for almost one hundred years.

In medieval Europe one can not speak about states, namely about political constructions that include all individuals of a large territory. Instead, the states were perceived as a principle of organization immemorial, eternal – human, "original creations of the human mind [1]", as they were called by Leopold von Ranke, "we might say, ideas of God" [2].

Modern research has abandoned this concept. Nowadays It is well known that the structures of medieval communities were far more complex and labile. Firstly, it is a certainty that until during the height of the Middle Ages we can not talk about of a monarchical government over territory and population, therefore, we can not talk about states. A medieval king had direct political relations with relatively few individuals.

Its power was based on land properties, held by him and his family and the fact that other landowners were recognizing him as the most powerful among them, showing themselves willing to be subordinate. Hence , derives personal relationships fixed contractually: through the vassalage covenant, the suzerain promised the vassal his protection while his vassal swore allegiance.

This state of facts confirms the assertions of some researchers, according to who, in the most part of Europe, any form of government was based on the feudal system: medieval Europe did not know territorially defined states, but on ties of vassalage. States, as we know them, are long lasting constructions, superpersonal and related to institutions; medieval dependency links were however time limited, ending with the death of the suzerain or the vassal and had to be reset again each time. Thus modern European state has developed from medieval dependency links.

Regarding the Christianity and the reason of state, they have shaped as an idea during the edification of the modern state. Hence, appears the phrase "Christian Europe", which shows the importance of the Church at that time. There have been an endless flow of misfortune that had to shake Christianity: Popes exile to Avignon (1309), in 1339 has started the one hundred years war between France and England, accompanied by starvation and pestilence which culminated with epidemic plague from 1348/1349. This was followed by the French peasant uprising from 1358, by the riots in England and France from 1381/1382, the Swiss Confederation victory over Habsburg army at Sempach from 1386 Seven years later has produced the Hungarian army of King Sigismund destruction by the Turks at Nicopolis, the fall of Constantinople from 1453.

The analytical observation of history, as it is provided by Hagen Schulze in the volume “States, Nations and Nationalism. From the Middle Ages to the Present”, represents an instrument for understanding the past heritage that Europe is forced to wear by itself with its ups and downs.

“The Pelican history of medieval Europe” of the Maurice Keen in another good outline of the religious, intellectual, social and political history of Europe from 800-1453 A.D. Understanding its background will help us understand our subject itself. The main theme which of the Keen's Medieval Europe is the idea of Christendom: the unity of Christian Europe. He traces its development, expansion and disintegration.

The ideas of the middle ages were the assumptions of the Reformation and early modernity. The emergence of the modern state is a slow process in which the religious legitimacy is replaced by the profane type. Even before the French Revolution and the English and American revolutions, political power holders will find in a reference point state institutions other than those offered by tradition or personal interests.

The modern state appears in the context of the Roman Empire decline. At that time the Latin language held primacy as means of expression of politics, religion and philosophy. In this context, Europe would have been broken if it were not for the unifying power of the Church and persistent memory of Rome.

In other words, the modern state appears as a political hypostasis released by the divine tutelage. Secularity is an essential attribute because it enables the location of the state above the religious diversity of the citizens and symbolizes the fact that the social bond is not only religious but also national, that is, politics. But the modern state has not lost its sacrality, as he appears as a modern experience of the sacred that joins faith in the nation. The new modern secular state has taken under its responsibility the social functions that were provided until then by the church: civil status, social support, education, thus, becoming a new protective and paternal instance, called "the Providential state".


Request Removal

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Request the removal of this essay


More from UK Essays